Humiliation for Erdogan in Istanbul mayor election
Turkey’s main opposition was set for a decisive victory in Istanbul’s re-run election, dealing one of the biggest blows to President Tayyip Erdogan during his 16 years in power.
Ekrem Imamoglu, of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), was leading with 54pc of votes versus 45pc for Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) candidate, with more than 99pc of ballots opened.
“Today, 16 million Istanbul residents have renewed our faith in democracy and refreshed our trust in justice,” Mr Imamoglu said.
His AKP opponent, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, congratulated him and wished him “all the luck” in serving Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city. Mr Erdogan also tweeted his congratulations.
Mr Imamoglu had won the original mayoral election on March 31 by a narrow margin that prompted the Islamist-rooted AKP to demand a re-run, citing what it said were voting irregularities.
The High Election Board’s decision to grant that request drew sharp criticism from Turkey’s Western allies and from Mr Erdogan’s opponents at home, stirring concerns about the rule of law and raising the stakes in a re-run that many Turks saw as a test of their country’s democracy.
Broadcasters put the CHP’s lead at about 700,000 votes, eclipsing the roughly 13,000-vote margin in March.
The election board said it would announce the election results as soon as possible.
Mr Imamoglu, a former businessman and district mayor who waged an inclusive campaign and avoided criticising Erdogan, said he was ready to work with the AKP to tackle Istanbul’s problems.
This second defeat in Istanbul would be a major embarrassment for the president and could also weaken his iron grip on power.